Day 34 : Atienza, Cuevas and Trial Recess (Corona Impeachment Trial)

After 34 days of the trial the Impeachment Court finished today their last day before going to the Lenten break. The session was adjourned passed 6pm this afternoon and will resume trial on May 7, 2012.

But before the trial adjourned 2 witnesses were able to be presented by the defense panel. First to be presented was Miriam Mosuela of the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC). Prosecution at the onset opposed the offer of her testimony, citing its relevance to the case at hand, but the court admitted. She then testified on the benefits, salaries and compensation Mrs. Cristina Corona earned during her tenure at JHMC.

After her, the prosecution then called on former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza to the witness stand. He testified with regards to the sales of the property owned by the Basa-Guidote Enterprise which is a family business by the Chief Justice’s wife Cristina.

On his testimony he told the court that the property bought by the city government was owned by BGEI and was sold through it’s authorized representative Mrs. Corona. During the direct examination he stated that a cheque of 34.703 million pesos was paid to Mrs. Corona in trust of the Basa-Guidote Enterprise.

The prosecution meanwhile, during its cross examination tried to test the credibility of the witness. They’ve tried to dig-in whether the sale has no indication of some special favors. They’ve also tried to show that there is some degree of lack of due diligence because the owner of the property was the BGEI but the cheque was named to Mrs. Corona and not the corporation.

Thereafter some senator-judges also inquired on the witness Atienza to ask some clarificatory questions. But the one that created the spotlight was Sen. Recto, who in his line of questioning made lead defense counsel, former Justice Serafin Cuevas quite irate. Cuevas even seemingly went into an offensive tirade to Recto saying his remarks was unfair saying they are yet to present evidence on the matter being raised by the senator. Before the conversation becomes more heated presiding judge Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile immediately interrupted Cuevas and said that Recto was just clarifying on the matter being testified already by the witness Atienza.

At the end Cuevas just apologized for his quite over reaction to Recto’s statement and then it was followed by the senate adjournment.

TRIALserye: The Pilot Episode (Corona Impeachment Trial)

The day has come for yet another first in our history as today marked the first day of the Impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Early this morning, CJ’s supporters gathered in-front of the Supreme Court to show support for their boss where a fierce and in fighting mood Corona addressed them. In his speech before his supporters he enumerated 3 people who wants him out of the supreme court and again denied every allegations stated on the articles of impeachment which are Betrayal of Public Trust, Culpable Violation of the Constitution and Graft and Corruption.

During the afternoon at about 2pm, the trial started with a prayer by Sen. Edgardo Angara and the opening statement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who is acting as the presiding judge. Present in the Senate Impeachment hall are almost all the Senator-Judges except Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who is suffering from hypertension and Sen. Loren Legarda who was said to be in the United States. And as earlier speculated, the Chief Justice attended the first day of his trial in the senate together with his wife Cristina and other supporters like SC Spokesman Midas Marquez.

In his opening statement Sen. Pres. Enrile assured that the trial will be bounded by rules and not by public opinion or emotions. After that was the presentation of both the prosecution and defense panels led by  Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. and former Justice Serapin Cuevas respectively. Thereafter was their opening statements successively (Tupas for the presecution and Eduardo delos Angeles for the defense).

During today’s session also, the prosecution seemingly scored against the defense as their motion for preliminary investigation was denied by the presiding judge. It may be a setback for the side of the defense but they’re confident it will not hamper the course of their strategy.

Today is indeed another landmark in our nation’s history. This is the first time that we are experiencing an impeachment trial of the highest justice of the land. Although we are not virgin to impeachment trials as we already experienced it during the time of Erap, this time was different because it will show how matured we became in regards to this democratic process. This will also be a test to our Senators, who are sitting as judges, to be impartial and act as neutral as they can and try the case without undue biases to their political affiliations and linings. And lastly this is a test for all of us, because in any way, it will still affect us because we are all part of this process.

This is democracy in action so we ought to be discerning and objective in all the news and information that will be fed to our minds. Examine the facts and statements and not just rely on the popular opinions. Failure of the trial will be our failure also and its success will be success of our democracy and all our democratic institutions.

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“Impeachment is not a remedy for private wrongs; it’s a method of removing someone whose continued presence in office would cause grave danger to the nation.”Charles Ruff